SHINee is one of those select K-pop groups whose Japanese output is on par with their Korean work – both in quality and volume. This extends to their solo projects, with multiple members making inroads to the J-pop market. On the heels of his latest mini album, Onew is set to release the Japanese language Who Sings? Vol. 1, heralded by new single Kirakira (キラキラ).
Across both projects, I’ve admired Onew’s willingness to embrace multiple genres. It would’ve been easy to churn out a handful of ballads and call it a day, but he’s opted for music with a bit more kick. Songs like Dice and Kirakira still have most of their edges smoothed, but that’s in keeping with his artistic perspective. I don’t expect edgy, prickly pop from Onew. Leave that to bandmates Key and Taemin. Instead, a track like Kirakira shines full spotlight on his warm vocals.
Right from the start, Kirakira delivers the sort of ornate, whimsical atmosphere J-pop does so well. Strings swoop and slide as light percussion gives the song a slight rock touch. This is further developed via a dynamic guitar solo at Kirakira’s climax. The verses are pretty but slight – almost hesitant to leave their full mark. However, I love the chorus. The melody has a satisfying heft and a nice sense of rhythm. Onew manages to squeeze a ton of drama from the refrain without the need of multitracking or vocal harmony. He just belts it out, and that’s more than enough.